Why do so many journalists inflate the importance of their role in our culture? Well, dentists brag about the miracle of dentistry, don't they? I suspect that the egotistical proclamations of journalists really mask the low esteem they hold for the total product they produce. If you fillet the average daily newspaper—cutting out the sports section, the comics, the crossword, the horoscope, the opinion pages, the entertainment coverage, and the special sections devoted to home, dining, medicine, travel, cars, real estate, and TV listings—relatively little of the democracy-enhancing, life-sustaining reportage they boast about actually gets printed.
Stumped by the generational reference of the hed and dek? See this famous National Lampoon cover. Send investigative ideas and dental tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Permanent disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)
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